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How We Reported 'Level 14'

The reporting for "Level 14: How a home for troubled children came undone and what it means for California's chance at reform" took place over the course of several months beginning in July 2014.

We drew on interviews with more than three dozen subjects, including former EMQ FamiliesFirst executives, social workers, therapists, administrative staff, counselors, managers, teachers and supervisors who worked on the home's Davis, Calif., campus. We also interviewed children who lived on the campus and their parents. As well, we interviewed group care industry leaders and experts and a representative of the California Department of Social Services, which oversees group homes throughout the state.

We obtained thousands of pages of documents through public records requests, including three years of summary "unusual incident reports" filed by EMQ FamiliesFirst staff to DSS, six months of full reports from the first half of 2013, and five years of complaint investigations and facility evaluation reports. We reviewed similar records for about 50 other licensed Level 14 facilities throughout the state.

We also examined EMQ FamiliesFirst budgets, organizational charts, training manuals, financial statements, audits, county records, deeds, trusts, and mortgage documents. We reviewed court records from three lawsuits filed against the facility by residents and former employees.

We were denied access to full Davis Police Department reports for the facility, but we obtained a spreadsheet that listed every 911 call going back 18 months prior to the home's closure, which includes the location and nature of each call. We interviewed several police officers who responded to calls related to runaways, assaults, rape allegations and other abuses that took place on and around the campus.

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